PG-13 100 mins.
Disclaimer: This review is a long time coming BUT well deserved. I stand corrected on my list of Best Films for 2011. The Artist might be my favorite film, thus far.
For those who are not familiar with the film, it is an homage to silent film, cleverly packaged as... a silent film.
My Review: The Artist is a romantic French film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Taking place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932, the story focuses on the decline of a famous male film star in contrast to the rise of a young starlet, as silent films become replaced by the new medium of cinema, talkies (sound film).
With its recent sweep at the Golden Globes--Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score, and Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and admirably, its solid insertion in practically every film blog or movie critic’s Best Film of 2011 list, it is painfully obvious that this film will not be ignored. And thus we ventured to our nearest theatre that specializes in indie and foreign film and began our journey into the abstruse world of black and white cinema... without dialogue, we might add.
In the beginning of the movie, we become introduced to our main character George Valentin (Dujardin), a beloved silent film star, as a packed audience applauds the premiere of his latest film, A Russian Affair. As we watch Valentin playfully thank his fans for their adoration, we applaud Dujardin for his performance. He embodies that aged elegance that we lack to see in Hollywood these days. From his charismatic and infectious smile, to his adorable sidekick, a spunky Jack Russel Terrier, Dujardin inexplicably transports us back to the roaring twenties and the Golden Age of Cinema.
From there, we watch the actor meet and befriend a young starlet, Ms. Peppy Miller (Bejo). Though he is married at the time, there is quite romance that begins to build between the two. Miller almost becomes a guardian of sorts, as her fame rises with the inception of sound in cinema, and Valentin’s star sinks, as he is quickly ushered out of Hollywoodland to make room for the new fresh faces of these popular new films, talkies. The story builds as Miller never forgets Valentin, remembering his kindness and sincerity when she first started and remains in the shadow of Valentin’s deteriorating life throughout the film.
What we loved about this movie is simply everything. Filmed as a black and white silent film, we were mesmerized by its entirety. Forced to focus on every detail, we consumed it and enjoyed every minute of it. Our daughters even praised it, and added that they liked how the love story of Valentin and Miller, relied on the plot, never showing them kiss. We agree. It is love letter to old cinema (as with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo), and cleverly packaged as a romantic tale of two people hoping to find longevity in very cut throat, but young Hollywood. The characters are so likeable, you cannot help but hope for their happily ever after and the director does this harmoniously with the pairing of a wonderful musical score that helps dictate the tone to the film. The Artists is just brilliant on many levels.
Our final thoughts on the film? It is the Best Film of 2011. And we make our prediction that not only will it be nominated for Best Picture, but will take home the Oscar for it.
Cast and Credit:
Written and Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Jean Dujardin-George Valentin
Bérénice Bejo-Peppy Miller
John Goodman-Al Zimmer